The 2015 ICT in Education Policy defines information and communications technologies (ICTs) as “information handling tools – a varied set of goods, applications and services that are used to produce, store, and process, distribute and exchange information. They include 'old' ICTs of radio, television and telephone, and the 'new' ICT of computers, satellite and wireless technology and the Internet with their attendant tools”. ICTs can come in the form of a) hardware technology in varying forms (computers, embedded processes in equipment, handheld portables such as smart phones & tablets; etc), b) software applications from desktop applications to mobile apps to web applications to cloud services, c) member-driven or externally-moderated social media and networks, and d) paid commercial platforms where specific goods, services & information resources can be bought, traded or exchanged on a one-time or recurrent use basis. ICT is also defined in the 2018 National Teachers’ Standards for Ghana Guidelines, as “a diverse set of technological tools and resources used to transmit, store, create, share or exchange information. These technological tools and resources include computers, the Internet (websites, blogs and emails), live broadcasting technologies (radio, television and webcasting), recorded broadcasting technologies (podcasting, audio and video players, and storage devices) and telephony (fixed or mobile, satellite, video-conferencing, etc.)”.
In the 2015 ICT in Education Policy, information technology is defined as “all equipment, processes, procedures and systems used to provide and support information systems (both computerized and manual) within an organisation and those reaching out to customers and suppliers. The term information and communication technology, ICT, was coined to reflect the seamless convergence of digital processing and telecommunications. ICTs include hardware, processes and systems that are used for storing, managing, communicating and sharing information”.
The policy also briefly refers to ‘educational technology’ but without defining it specifically.
Constitution and laws: Ghana’s 1992 Constitution (as amended in 1996) stipulates that “the State shall, subject to the availability of resources, provide: equal and balanced access to secondary and other appropriate preuniversity education, equal access to university or equivalent education, with emphasis on science and technology”, under its Education Objectives (Article 38:3).
The 2008 Education Act includes provisions for the delivery of distance education (Articles 1 and 9), and provides for the Minister of Education to make regulations in respect of: information and communication technology in education; distance education; and science and technology education (Article 29).
There is no national ICT Act, although the Ministry of Communications and Digitalization has published various laws relating to ICTs, such as the 2008 National Information Technology Agency Act, the 2008 National Communications Authority Act, the 2008 Electronic Transactions Act, and the 2008 Electronic Commissions Act, although none of these acts specifically includes provisions for education. The 2008 Electronic Transactions Act only includes education information of an individual under its definition of ‘personal information’.
The 2008 Electronic Transactions Act includes provisions for universal service (Art. 23) and universal access (Art. 24), with universal access including access to the internet that is affordable and of high quality by kindergarten, first and second cycle institutions, community colleges, and universities.
Policies, plans and strategies: The government of Ghana is strongly committed to integrating ICT in the education system, which is detailed in numerous policy and strategy documents. The integration of ICT in education is additionally part of Ghana’s education reform agenda under the 2018-30 Education Strategic Plan, with a dedicated ICT in Education Reform seeking to “develop early desire and competences in children to use ICT, equip pre-tertiary learners with ICT skills, infuse ICTs into education management, and transform teacher development and tertiary education through technology-based training”.
The 2015 ICT in Education Policy (originally drafted in 2003, with reviews in 2006 and 2008) is the main policy document that aims to streamline efforts to integrate ICTs in the education system of Ghana, recognizing the key role ICTs can play in widening access to, and improving the quality of education at all levels in Ghana. The overall vision of the policy is to “use appropriate ICTs to support and align the sector Ministry's policies, objectives and strategies, particularly as it relates to equitable access to education, quality of education, educational management, science and technology and labour market needs”, while the policy’s mission is to “articulate the relevance, responsibility and effectiveness of utilizing Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in the education sector, with a view to addressing current sector challenges and equipping Ghanaian learners, students, teachers and communities in meeting the national and global demands of the 21st Century”. Towards these ends, the overall policy goal is to enable graduates from Ghanaian educational institutions – formal and non-formal - to confidently and creatively use ICT tools and resources to develop requisite skills and knowledge needed to be active participants in the global knowledge economy at all times. The policy’s efforts are delivered within three pillars: a) ICT as a learning and operating tool, b) ICT as integrated into the teaching and learning, and c) ICT as a career option for students. These are each defined in its seven thematic areas: 1) Education Management – Ministry/Agencies and Educational Institutions, 2) Capacity Building, 3) Infrastructure, E-readiness and Equitable Access, 4) Incorporating ICTs into the Curriculum, 5) Content Development, 6) Technical Support, Maintenance and Sustainability, and 7) Monitoring and Evaluation. The government is currently working on a revised version of the ICT in Education Policy to “to make it more comprehensive and relevant”.
The 2003 Ghana Integrated ICT for Accelerated Development (ICT4AD) Policy outlines the plans and strategies for the realization of the vision to transform Ghana into an information-rich knowledge-based society and economy through the development, deployment and exploitation of ICT within the economy and society. The National Policy outlines 14 pillars, of which education is highlighted, as both a critical pillar as well as a key socioeconomic enabler, through the priority focus education objective of ‘Promoting ICTs in Education – The Deployment and Exploitation of ICTs in Education’. The objective aims to “promote an improved educational system within which ICTs are widely deployed to facilitate the delivery of educational services at all levels of the educational system”. One of the policy strategies is explicitly to “modernize Ghana’s educational system using ICTs to improve and expand access to education, training and research resources and facilities, as well as to improve the quality of education and training and make the educational system responsive to the needs and requirements of the economy and society with specific reference to the development of the information and knowledge-based economy and society”.
ICT objectives are also included in the 2018-30 Education Strategic Plan, which aims to provide relevant education, with an emphasis on science, information, communication, and technology, to equip individuals for self-actualisation and peaceful coexistence, as well as skills for the workplace for national development. ICT in education reforms are additionally included as part of the government’s wide-randing education reforms to transform teaching and learning and improve educational outcomes in Ghana. ICT in Education Reforms specifically seek to develop early desire and competences in children to use ICT, equip pre-tertiary learners with ICT skills, infuse ICTs into education management, and transform teacher development and tertiary education through technology-based training. These are similarly highlighted in the 2018-21 Education Sector Medium-Term Development Plan, which similarly focuses on the development of STEM, ICT skills, and teacher training.
The 2012 National Broadband Policy and Impementation Strategy also supports the improvement of education, which is viewed as a key area for the acceleration of broadband application usage. Under the policy objective of ‘Development of ICT in Education’, the government aims to promote equitable access to e-education to benefit remote areas to enhance distance learning and local education.
Digital competency frameworks: One of the purposes of the ICT in Education Reform is to develop student competencies in using ICTs and transform teacher education and development through technology-based training. The National Teacher Education Curriculum Framework, which defines the overarching vision, critical content areas, pedagogy, linkages, and assessment from which Teacher Education curricula will be developed, includes an ICT in Teacher Education Framework with different ICT competencies outlined as part of a) awareness and attitude, b) knowledge and skills, and c) implementation and innovation. The 2018 National Teachers’ Standards for Ghana Guidelines also includes technology-enhance learning, with the teacher expected to have developed an understanding of how to use ICT in their practice and enhance learning through ICT.
Changes occurred as a result of COVID-19: The COVID-19 Coordinated Education Response Plan for Ghana aimed to build a resilient education system that is future ready, with a strong focus to capitalize on the strategies and resources put in place during this crisis to increase access and improve learning opportunities for all children. This includes ensuring that learning is accessible to students with special education needs and a particular attention to girls’ education. The plan also included a framework for the Theory of Change in education to ensure that all learners, including the most vulnerable, have improved access to quality learning opportunities (remote/distance)/outomes and are better prepared to enrol in a safe and inclusive school environment.
2.2.1. Technology infrastructure and digital capacity of schools
The 2015 ICT in Education Policy considers affordable and continuous access to hardware, software and connectivity one of the cross-sectoral elements underpinning the policy framework. It aims to ensure the acquisition, maintenance and support of appropriate ICT infrastructure and resources for all levels of the education sector. The 2018-30 Education Strategic Plan similarly plans to improve ICT resources and infrastructure in educational institutions, with the 2018-21 Education Sector Medium-Term Development Plan aiming to conduct a needs assessment of ICT infrastructure in basic schools, as well as develop infrastructure to support distance education and e-Learning.
Electricity: The 2015 ICT in Education Policy considers the availability of appropriate physical infrastructure including power sources (e.g. electricity or solar) key to the development of ICT infrastructure in schools. It aims to explore cost effective alternatives for educational institutions without regular electricity supply (such as solar power).
Computers and devices: The 2003 Ghana ICT4AD Policy supports the introduction of computer devices in all primary, secondary, vocational and technical schools. To enhance access to these devices, the policy aims to put special schemes in place to enable students, teachers and educational institutions to purchase computers through attractive financial packages. The government introduced a One Laptop Per Child Policy (OLPC) in 2008 as part of the 2008 ICT in Education Policy, although the project was suspended in 2010. The provision of computer labs in schools and supply of laptops to students is also included as an objective of the 2015 ICT in Education Policy, which aims to increase access to affordable hardware, software and connectivity. Similar goals are included in the 2012 National Broadband Policy and Impementation Strategy as part of the school connectivity program, which aims to install computers and other IT accessories in all senior secondary schools and colleges of teacher education, as well as technical and vocational schools.
Internet connectivity: Increasing internet connectivity in schools is included in several of Ghana’s policy and strategy documents. The 2015 ICT in Education Policy and 2003 Ghana ICT4AD Policy aim to promote internet access to all educational institutions, including schools, universities, and colleges. The Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC), which initiated projects that facilitate citizens’ access to connectivity, includes the school connectivity program, which aims to install internet access and computers and other IT accessories in all senior secondary schools and colleges of teacher education, as well as technical and vocational schools. The school connectivity program is highlighted in the 2012 National Broadband Policy and Impementation Strategy, which similarly supports equitable access to e-education to benefit remote areas and enhance distance learning and local education through high speed and affordable broadband internet connectivity to schools. The strategy aims to ensure the extension of broadband facility to all schools as well as subsidizing broadband equipment for social services in schools.
The 2008 Electronic Transactions Act includes provisions for universal access to the internet for education institutions from kindergarten to tertiary level (Art. 24).
2.2.2. Technology and learning environments
The provision of distance education is highlighted in numerous government policy and strategy documents. The 2008 Education Act provides for the education Minister to make regulations in respect of distance education (Article 29), with the 2003 Ghana ICT4AD Policy and 2015 ICT in Education Policy both highlighting the promotion and development of open, distance and e-learning methods to broaden access to educational services and resources. This includes the promotion of e-learning in schools and colleges to supplement and complement face-to-face instruction, the development of digitized content to support education delivery, development of cost effective distance education programs for all eduction levels in both formal and informal sectors, development of a national education portal/website that allows easy access to educational information, the distribution of DVDs and CD ROMs to schools, and the conversion of traditional education materials into electronic format. The 2018-30 Education Strategic Plan similarly aims to strengthen the Centre for National Distance Learning Open Schooling (CENDLOS), while the 2018-21 Education Sector Medium-Term Development Plan further supports the expansion of the i-campus as a learning portal. The development of distance education is also highlighted in the 2012 National Broadband Policy and Impementation Strategy which supports the promotion of equitable access to distance learning and e-education to benefit remote areas. Finally, the 2014 Broadcasting Bill supports educational broadcasting based on the curricula and general educationa themes.
The Centre for National Distance Learning and Open Schooling (CENDLOS) is involved in the production of audio-visual lessons as supplementary and complementary teaching and learning materials at the pre-tertiary level, with video lessons telecast on Ghana TV and intended to benefit students especially those from low-performing schools. CENDLOS’s iBox system is Ghana’s offline technology, designed and deployed for under-privileged students to access quality educational content, without internet connectivity and its associated cost. The iCampus system is an online version of the distance learning designed to engage students while they are away from school and on vacation. The Ministry of Education and Ghana Education Service have additionally launched the Edmondo Ghana e-learning platform for teachers and students which is based on a hybrid learning model. Finally, the Ghana EduConnect platform is a public directory of open educational resources (OER) for learners which provides links to relevant digital resources including video, audio, documents, interactive objects and images.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, the government published the COVID-19 Coordinated Education Response Plan for Ghana which included remote learning strategies for the immediate and short term need (4 to 8 weeks), medium term (3 to 9 months) and more long term (2021 and beyond). Remote learning was delivered through a combination of low tech and high tech modalities, including radio through the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), television through Ghana Learning TV (GL-TV), and online provision with the support of the Center for National Distance Learning and Open Schooling (CENDLOS). The Ministry also outlined approaches for accelerated education, remedial, and Catch-Up Programmes to support the most marginalized children catch-up when schools resumed. During school re-openings, schools followed the Guidelines for School Re-opening during COVID-19.
The 2003 Ghana ICT4AD Policy and 2015 ICT in Education Policy both support the integration of technology into the teaching and learning process and development of student ICT skills in all schools from kindergarten to tertiary level, with the overarching goal to transform Ghana into an information and knowledge-driven ICT literate nation. The development and restructuring of relevant ICT curricula for all education levels is similarly highlighted, with the ultimate goal to create a learner community that is adequately prepared to enter the world of higher education and of work.
The 2015 ICT in Education Policy additionally supports the establishment of national minimum basic ICT standards at all education levels to ensure students are computer literate in appropriate basic ICT skills. An appropriate measurement and evaluation mechanism for student ICT competencies also plans to be developed.
The development of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs is similarly highlighted in numerous government documents, with a special focus on achieving gender equity in the field. The 2008 Education Act provides for regulations in respect of science and technology education and gender equity at all levels and programs of education (Article 29), while the 2003 Ghana ICT4AD Policy aims to strengthen science and technology education at all levels. Detailed focus on STEM is further included in the 2018-30 Education Strategic Plan and the 2018-21 Education Sector Medium-Term Development Plan, with an objective to promote STEM education at the basic education level (particularly for girls) and achieve a 60/40 enrolment target for science/arts and humanities at tertiary level. The plan explicitly supports the improvement of learning outcomes for girls in all subjects, with a focus on STEM subjects, through the Girls Education Unit. In 2022, the Ministry of Communications and Digitalisation additionally introduced basic ICT training and coding for young girls under the flagship program Girls-in-ICT.
The National Teacher Education Curriculum Framework defines the overarching vision, critical content areas, pedagogy, linkages, and assessment from which Teacher Education curricula will be developed. It considers ICT as part of the core skills and competencies to being an effective teacher, with a dedicated ICT in Teacher Education Framework. ICT is viewed as “key to effective communication, teaching and learning in the 21st century”, with ICT competencies outlined as part of teachers’ a) awareness and attitude, b) knowledge and skills (basic knowledge and information literacy; basic ICT skills), and c) implementation and innovation (applying ICT equitably, effectively, and appropriately, and self-regulating practice). ICT is also used to promote learning in teacher education, through student teachers’ learning of ICT, ICT integration in subject teaching, and ICT for pedagogical innovation and transformation. The 2018 National Teachers’ Standards for Ghana Guidelines similarly includes technology-enhanced learning, with teachers expected to develop understanding of how to use ICT in their practice, produce and use a variety of teaching and learning resources (including ICT), to enhance learning, and have good technological pedagogical knowledge on how to incorporate ICT into their practice to support learning.
The development of teachers’ digital skills in both pre-service and in-service training is highlighted in several policy and strategy documents. The 2003 Ghana ICT4AD Policy supports the improvement and upgrade of teacher computer skills through in-service training), under the policy objective ‘Accelerated Human Resource Development’. Similarly, the 2015 ICT in Education Policy aims to improve ICT literacy among teachers, school leaders, and administrators, highlighting the importance of both pre-service and in-service training that allows them to adapt to changing situations and best practices. Teacher capacity building as viewed as a key objective of the policy, in addition to using ICTs for teacher training. The 2018-30 Education Strategic Plan also supports the improvement of teacher ICT skills.
2.4.1. Data privacy
The 2012 Data Protection Act (Act 843) protects individual privacy and personal data by regulating the collection, use, and disclosure of personal data and by providing procedures for the processing of personal data originating in Ghana. It includes a section on Health, Education and Social Work (Article 62), which prohibits the disclosure of personal data where the “data controller is an educational institution and which relates to a pupil at the institution”. Personal data is exempt from data protection principles if it consists of a reference given in confidence by the data controller for the purposes of education, training or employment of the data subject.
2.4.2. Online abuse and cyberbullying
In 2020, the government passed the 2020 Cybersecurity Act, which establishes the Cyber Security Authority (CSA), protects the critical information infrastructure of the country, regulates cybersecurity activities, provides for the protection of children on the internet, and develops Ghana’s cybersecurity ecosystem. The law addresses offences against children which have been increasing in the COVID-19 era. It includes a section on cybersecurity public awareness and education, with the CSA responsible for carrying out programs to promote public awareness and education on matters relating to cybersecurity (Article 60), as well as developing, establishing and adopting cybersecurity standards for education and skills development (Article 59). The law additionally includes a section on the protection of children online (which includes abuse and cyberstalking), but does not explicitly refer to educational institutions under these provisions. The government had incorporated cybersecurity education into the basic and senior secondary schools since 2019 as part of an agenda to build capacity of citizenry in tackling cybersecurity, while the 2015 Ghana National Cyber Security Policy & Strategy includes a dedicated section on cybersecurity awareness, training and education, as well as child online protection, with the latter not specifically referring to schools. Education is also included a critical information sector in the 2021 Directive for the Protection of Critical Information Infrastructure.
The Ministry of Education (MoE) is responsible for overseeing the integration of ICT in the education system, which includes the supervision and responsibility for the implementation of the 2015 ICT in Education Policy. While there is no ICT Directorate or Department under the MoE, there are relevant services and agencies working in collaboration with the MoE to facilitate the implementation of its policies and programs.
The Ghana Education Service (GES) is responsible for the implementation of approved national pre-tertiary educational policies and programs, which includes supporting the MoE in the implementation of the 2015 ICT in Education Policy. Efforts to introduce ICTs into the education sector by the MoE are primarily handled through the GES.
The Centre for National Distance Learning and Open Schooling (CENDLOS) is one of the government agencies working on collaboration with the MoE and is responsible for the delivery and regulation of open and distance learning (such as iBox and iCampus), supporting open and distance learning activities in partnership with private and public sectors, and developing distance education content. Its mission is to make technology an essential tool in education service delivery at all levels, with a vision to “make learning accessible, flexible and affordable to all, using modern, cutting edge technology in open, distance and electronic learning”. The mandate of the CENDLOS is to regulate, control and advise on online education and open schooling.
The Ministry of Communications and Digitalization aims to promote the development of Ghana into a knowledge-based society and a smart economy through the use of ICT. Policy objectives include improving ICT infrastructure in rural areas, with core functions to build capacity for the ICT sector and develop appropriate regulations to protect consumers and stimulate competition in the communication sector.
The Data Protection Commission (DPC) is an independent statutory body established under the 2012 Data Protection Act (Act 843) to protect the privacy of the individual and personal data by regulating the processing of personal information. This also includes the education sector, as this is regulated in the Act.
The Cyber Security Authority (CSA) has been established by the 2020 Cybersecurity Act to regulate cybersecurity activities in Ghana and to promote the development of cybersecurity in the country and to provide for related matters.
The 2003 Ghana ICT4AD Policy aims to facilitate the collaboration between the MoR and various agencies and bodies for the integration of ICT in education and training. According to the 2015 ICT in Education Policy, the effective implementation of the policy requires the active participation of a number of other Ministries, Departments and Agencies. The private sector has also been very active in the educational system and as a partner invests considerably in ICT in the private schools at all levels. ICT infrastructure in schools is further supported through the establishment of ICT Coordinators and lab technicians in all educational institutions to provide technical support and maintenance, in addition to setting up regional and district technical support and maintenance centres.
The 2015 ICT in Education Policy further outlines ways in which ICT initiatives can be sustainable, including through stakeholder commitments, partnerships, and regular budget lines. Critical success factors for the effective implementation of the policy were additionally identified, which include political and governmental commitment and a sustainability and funding framework.
The Ghana Education Service (GES) has placed a ban on the use of mobile phones in senior high schools, technical and vocational institutions. The 2015 ICT in Education Policy supported for the MoE and the GES to critically review and firmly resolve the treatment of the issue of student usage of personal mobile phones and other handheld devices, especially in senior high schools in Ghana. As of June 2020, the GES was discussing the possibility of senior high school students using mobile phones in schools, with the MoE and Ministry of Communications and Digitization supporting the use of these devices in high schools.